Depression and anxiety: 5 signs to look for in your child.
Children can suffer from depression and anxiety. Depression is deeper than the normal feeling of sadness that can happen to any child while growing up. Depression is deeper and may interfere with their normal activities, schoolwork and interests. Anxiety looks different from depression in that it is defined as deep feelings of worry and fear. Anxiety affects a child’s sleep, eating and behavior. Here are five behaviors to look for in your child that may mean he or she is suffering from either anxiety or depression.
There are several types of anxiety disorders
The most common are:
- Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD) which means the fear of everything
- Separation Anxiety Disorder (SAD) means being unusually upset when away from home or parents
- Panic Disorder includes panic attacks with no apparent outside cause
- Social Phobia includes anxiety being in a social situation that is more than normal shyness
The common symptoms that are connected to all the above include excessive crying, clinginess, expressions of fear, and the refusal to talk to anyone. The fear and worry he feels may be about normal things such as exams or schoolwork, but it is much more intense than normal fear. Children may also fear or worry about things that are out of their control such as climate change, illness or the future. If your child gets upset easily especially over small or insignificant things, it may be a symptom of anxiety disorder.
Other symptoms of anxiety may be physical. Staying home from school, clinging to a parent, shaking or trembling, shortness of breath, and a faster than a normal heartbeat. The symptoms of a feverish face, dry mouth, or sweaty hands are normal with fear, but children with anxiety will have these symptoms most of the time. If your child has trouble sleeping at night she may not tell you. If you see signs of sleepiness during the day, it may be because she is not able to sleep. After all, she starts worrying when she is alone at night.
The symptoms of depression in children vary. In younger children, tantrums, irritability, or anger may be signs of depression. These behaviors are considered a normal part of growing up, so they may not be diagnosed when the child is young. If your child displays unusual anger or irritability, it could be a symptom of depression.
Older children and teenagers may exhibit social withdrawal. This is caused by a feeling of hopelessness. They feel sad all the time and rarely show enthusiasm or happiness even to things their parents know they like. These feelings include guilt, worthlessness, and pessimism. Children over the age of 12 may turn to drugs or alcohol, thinking it will make them feel better. At this time, they may have thoughts of suicide or death. Suicide is rare in younger children, but some children over 12 years to attempt it.
Change in appetite
The symptoms of depression in children may also be physical. It may start with a change in appetite. This includes overeating or refusing to eat. Sleep habits may also change. Your child may feel sleepy all the time or sleep most of the day. A child with depression won’t be able to concentrate on schoolwork because their thinking and concentration are impaired by poor sleep habits. His or her grades may go down, but they won’t care.
Physical symptoms may include complaints that don’t respond to treatment such as headaches, cramps, stomachaches, and overall aches and pains. Chronic digestive problems are a common symptom because the child is always disturbed about something. A child may no longer be able to take part in school events, play sports, or enjoy hobbies.
If you notice that any of the above symptoms persist, it might be a good idea to have your child diagnosed and treated by a professional. There are a lot of ways to treat anxiety and depression One such option is neurofeedback treatment or neurotherapy, which is a way to improve brainwave activity. Neuro Hope, a center that does Neurofeedback Treatment in Colorado Springs explains that “Therapy can help individuals and families gain a better understanding of themselves or each other, manage anger or other intense emotions, learn new ways of coping, alter behavior patterns, learn and practice skills to improve relationships, develop/increase self-esteem and empowerment, and work through traumatic experiences.” The treatment may also offer a chance for recovery if you have already tried therapy and medications to no effect.
It’s important to understand that not all children exhibit all the above symptoms. They may also display different symptoms at different times. Whatever symptoms they show, most children with depression will have a loss of interest in school and display a noticeable change in social interactions. While depression and anxiety are serious conditions for all ages, both are treatable.